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Beijing releases Tiananmen activist Li Weihong after 18 years in prison

Beijing releases Tiananmen activist Li Weihong after 18 years in prison

Li Weihong, one of China's longest-serving prisoners jailed during the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests 18 years ago, was released yesterday, according to a fellow dissident.
Li, originally sentenced in 1989 to death with a two-year reprieve, was freed yesterday morning after receiving several sentence reductions, his friend Yu Zhijian told Agence France-Presse.
"He sounded a little inhibited on the phone... he didn't sound too excited," said Yu, who was himself imprisoned for 12 years as one of the three young men who pelted eggs at Mao Zedong's portrait on the Tiananmen Square gate in 1989.
"He has just returned home to see his father. He hasn't yet been told his mother died two years ago."
Li's father deliberately refrained from telling him about his mother's death as he did not want to subject him to too heavy an emotional strain while still in jail, according to Yu.
Li, who was a 21-year-old worker in central China's Hunan province at the time, was convicted of "hooliganism" for organizing street protests that turned violent in April 1989.
He was sentenced to death in June 1989 but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1992. He had since received several sentence reductions for good behaviour.
The charge of "hooliganism," like counter-revolution, was abolished from Chinese law in 1997.
There are about 100 Tiananmen activists still behind bars across China, according to an estimate by the Australia-based activist Sun Liyong.
Former journalist Yu Dongyue, who was freed last year after nearly 17 years in jail for throwing ink-filled eggs on Mao's portrait with Yu Zhijian, went insane as a result of torture and abuse in prison.


Updated : 2021-10-17 03:33 GMT+08:00